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Much Remains Unknown As Uber Says It Won’t Reclassify Drivers After AB-5 Is Inevitably Signed By Newsom

A passenger gets into a car marked as participating in both Uber and Lyft.
A passenger gets into a car marked as participating in both Uber and Lyft.
Al Seib/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

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California lawmakers sent the governor a bill Wednesday that would give new wage and benefit protections to workers at so-called gig economy companies such as Uber and Lyft where people pick up jobs on their own schedule. 

The 56-15 Assembly vote marked a victory for labor unions and a defeat for tech companies that vehemently oppose the proposal. It was previously approved by the state Senate and Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has said he supports it. The measure could have national implications as politicians and businesses confront the changing nature of work in the so-called gig economy. Uber, Lyft and meal delivery companies such as Doordash and Postmates still hope Newsom can negotiate a new proposal with unions that would create a separate set of rules for gig workers. Uber has said it doesn’t plan to reclassify its drivers.

Newsom is committed to continuing talks on refinements, said his spokesman Nathan Click. The bill was approved over strident Republican opposition. The bill has drawn staunch opposition from on-demand delivery and ridesharing companies that say it will effectively kill their business model. They've argued that making their workers employees would limit their ability to work flexible hours.

While its impact on gig economy companies has drawn most of the attention, the bill would affect a wide array of industries. The law lays out a test to decide if workers can be labeled as contractors. But there are still so many unknowns. We continue the discussion around AB-5 on AirTalk.  

We reached out to Uber and Lyft and both companies declined our requests for an interview. 

With files from the Associated Press


Joe Rajkovacz , director of governmental affairs & communications for the Western States Trucking Association (WSTA)

Wendy Musell, an employment lawyer with the firm Stewart & Musell in Emeryville, California